Constituent Assembly Election 2013

EVM. N°5

Election Violence Mapping

Constituent Assembly Election 2013

1 November 2013


Compared to last week, election campaigning as well as protest activities has intensified this week. Media coverage on election has grown, indicating rising public interest as well as widened spread of reporters covering elections. All domestic and international observation groups have now deployed their Long-term Observers and reports on election environment have started to come in from most parts of the country. There were no fatal incidences this week but reports of mild to serious injuries have grown in number. Torching and vandalizing campaign vehicles have become the most prevalent anti-poll activity this week. The bandhs called by parties opposing the election have become more frequent and most of the calls have tended to affect normal life and vehicular traffic. In general, while incidences of violence have increased the security situation has not gone out of control. The nature of violence remains spontaneous and sporadic rather than systemic and widespread. With Tihar holidays coming, a brief lull in election activities are likely till the middle of next week.

There has been a call from the leader of the group leading the protests against elections. The Chairman of CPN-MMohan Baidya has issued a statement asking that the elections be postponed and talks be held for finding a political resolution. It is unlikely that the parties as well as the government will engage with CPN-M on this agenda. There have also been reports of violations of the election Code of Conduct by candidates of all major parties contesting the election. Most visible has been the use of helicopters by the UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, while the Nepali Congress has said it was refused similar permission by the Election Commission.

Incidence report

The following incidents were reported in the country during the period of October 26-31, 2013.

Obstruction in Peaceful Movement, Bandhs or General Strikes: Nepal Army personnel have defused an explosive device placed at Charange on the Puspalal Marg in Dolakha district on 30 October. The bomb was aimed at obstructing the visit by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chair of the UPCN (M). Police recovered posters of CPN-M from the site. The CPN-M had called a general strike to disrupt Dahal's campaign. The UCPN (M) chief used a helicopter to attend the meeting, while security personnel removed obstacles from the road.

The CPN-M had called for similar strikes in Siraha district on 25 and 26 October to obstruct another UCPN (M) election meet. Further east, the Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC) enforced a general strike in nine districts to disrupt the movements of the UCPN (M) Chairperson on 28 October. The strike disrupted vehicular traffic in Taplejung, Panchthar, Terhatum, Sankhuwasava, Dhankuta, Ilam, Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts. Along similar lines, the CPN-M has called Baglung, Parbat and Myagdi district shutdown on 31 October to hinder UCPN (M) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal's campaigning programs.

In Nuwakot UCPN (M) workers tried to stop NC candidate Arjun Narsingh KC from visiting Kumari VDC on 30 October. The Maoist activists blocked the road by digging a trench across the road.

The alliance led by CPN-M announced a transport bandh in 31 districts of western Nepal on 31 October demanding the release of its arrested cadres. Long and short route vehicles were stranded along the highway all day. Academic institutions, market areas, factories and industries were shut down in most parts of the region.

In the meantime the CPN-Maoist called another bandh for 1 November in Surkhet to disrupt UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's election campaign in Surkhet. Normal life has been disrupted in the district due to the bandh.

In Myagdi, district CPN-M cadres obstructed the movements of Nabaraj Sharma of the CPN-UML by setting up roadblocks of felled trees at Singa. Sharma and his party activists were headed to Baranja village for an election campaign on 28 October.

Physical Attacks and Manhandling of Election Observers, Voters and Candidates: Lal Bahudar Jagri, a candidate of the Rastriya Jana Morcha (RJM)-Nepal in Dadeldhura has reported receiving a death threat from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist or UCPN (M) on October 27. Jagri said a group of about 50 UCPN-M cadres disrupted his election campaign at Kailpalmandu as directed by Nabal Singh Dhanuk of the UCPN (M) District Committee. He added that Harka Bahadur Dhanuk, a teacher, and three others were involved in intimidating and threatening him[1].

CPN-M workers attacked UCPN (M) candidate from Ilam Ramesh Lingden and two of his supporters at Dashami Bazaar in Ilam-Pachthar border on 27 October. Police said about 25-30 CPN-M cadres were involved in the attack. The assailants also vandalized the vehicles used for campaigning.[2].

In Baglung, the CPN-UML has accused Rastriya Janamorcha activists of assaulting its cadres on 28 October. Janamorcha supporters attacked Balika K.C., a UML district member, her mother Parbati Jaisi, father Purna K.C. and nephew Jeevan K.C. at their home, said Bhupal Chalise, secretary of UML’s constituency-2 election committee.[3]

Two NC activists were injured and two others were reported missing following a clash with Young Communist League (YCL) of the UCPN (M) Gaon Kharka in Nuwakot on 27 October. Tapindra Singh Lama of Gaoun Kharka-1 and Rup Lama of Betini – were reported missing by their relatives after the attack.[4] Follow-up information is awaited.

UCPN (M) cadres pelted stonesat a vehicle being used by Minendra Rijal of the NC at Teenmane Bhanjyang in Gorkha on 30 October. Rijal was accompanied by party members Surendra Pandey and Chin Kaji Shrestha and were heading to address an electoral assembly at Gorkha Constituency-1 in Batas. Police fired blanks to bring the situation under control.[5]

In Jorpati, Kathmandu NC supporters attacked Sita Luitel of the CPN-UML on 26 October. She was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.

CPN-M cadres are reported to have attacked Dil Bahadur KC, a central committee member of Youth Federation Nepal (YFN) affiliated to CPN-UML near Jalbang Khola of Rolpa on 26 October. K.C. was heading home after attending an election meeting.[6]

UCPN (M) and CPN-M cadres clashed in Kortang VDC of Jajarkot on 28 October. There was one person injured on both sides. The clash erupted after CPN-M are said to have torn posters put up by the UCPN (M) candidate of Constituency-2. Chakrapani Pande, Chief District Officer CDO), said a police team was dispatched to bring the situation under control[7].

Kiran Yadav, a NC candidate from Constituency-2 and other five activists were injured in a clashbetween the party and Madhesi Peoples´ Rights Forum-Nepal (MJF-N) at Rautali of Mahottari district on 28 October. Five motorbikes parked on the roadside were also damaged.[8].

NC activists clashed with police at Naubise of Dhading district on 25 October. Dozens of party workers includingArjun Upreti, a district official, were injured in the clash. The clashensued after the police allegedly removed the party’s flags from a parked private vehicle saying it was against the election Code of Conduct.[9]

In Surkhet, CPN-M cadres looted voter education materials from election officials at Ranibas-6 in Surkhet district on 26 October. Seven masked individuals were said to be involved in the attack on three election officials at Ranibas. The District Administration Office (DAO) Surkhet said that the assailants took away flipcharts, posters, handbooks, sample ballot paper, among others. Police arrested threeCPN-Mcadres three days after the attack. Earlier, CPN-M cadres had looted voter education materials from Rakam, Ghoreta and Aagrigaun on 21 October.[10]

CPN-M cadres looted election education materials in Mugu district on 26 October. A group of masked men had looted the materials from the homes of voter education volunteers and an activist at Rowa VDC.

Cadres of the CPN-M seized and burnt publicity materials belonging to the District Election Office, Kalikot on 28 October. They had also taken control of election publicity material in Panchthar district on 28 October.

UCPN (M) attacked inF a mass meeting organized by NC at Chaurjahari in Rukum district on 31 October. Cadres of the UCPN (M) pelted stones to the stage while the mass meeting was in middle. Two police personnel, an NC activist and a radio journalist were injured in an attack. The police had to fire three rounds of tear gas shells to take the situation under control. The NC mass meeting was affected for a while and after continued.

Arson Attacks and Use of Explosives: A bomb has been recovered and defused at Bharatpur Municipality-5 Lanku of Chitwan on 30 October.Personnel from Shumsher Dal Battalion of NA were sent to the site for disposal.

A socket bomb was planted at Birendranagar Chowk in Surkhet district on 1 November. A bomb disposal team of NA defused the bomb later. Police suspect the CPN-M might have planted the bomb to make their bandh successful.[11] An official of the CPN-M has refused the claim and said the party has no policy of planting bombs and terrifying people.[12]

In Nawalparasi a bomb disposal squad of NA defused a bomb in Parasi Bazar on October 31. Some pamphlets bearing the name of Rajan Pratap, the leader of the armed outfit Madeshi Mukti Tiger, were recovered from the site.

A vehicle used by Narahari Acharya, a NC candidate was set on fire in Kathmandu on 28 October. Unidentified men on a motorcycle had sprinkled petrol on the vehicle and set it on fire.

Similarly, a vehicle used by Rajendra Pandey of the CPN-UML was torchednear the northern gate of Narayanhiti Museum in Kathamandu on 28 October. According to eyewitnesses, a group of men torchedthe vehicle, chanted slogans against the UML and fled from the scene.

Another vehicle being used by the NC president Sushil Koirala was also set on fire by an unidentified group in Nepalgunj, Banke district on 28 October. The vehicle was parked outside the party office at Surkhet Road. The group sprinkled diesel on the vehicle and set it on fire that was doused by passerby.

Similarly, another vehicle being used by UCPN (M) candidate from Makawanpur, Constituency-3 was set on fire at Hetauda-5 on 27 October. The vehicle was being used by Prahlad Lamichhane. An eyewitness said a group came around midnight, set the vehicle on fire and fled the scene.[13]

Meanwhile, a Land Cruiser belonging to Shanta Chaudary the CPN-UML candidate from Dang Constituency-2 was set on fire on 29 October. The vehicle was parked outside a house at Dandagaun in Laxmipur of Dang district.

Similarly a vehicle (Lu 1 A 4523) used by NC candidate from Dang-2, Sushila Chaudhary has been torched by unidentified group while parked at Yubaraj Bhusal's house at Lalmatiya-4 on 30 October mid night.

In another incident, vehicle (Lu 1 Ja 2360) belonging to UCPM (M) candidate from Arghakhachi-1, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, was torched while parking in Sandhikharka, the district headquarters on 30 October, night.

A bus (Dha 1 Kha 540) and a jeep used for the transportation of UCPN (M) cadres were torchedby masked men nearby Bihu-4, Pidanla in Baglung on 30 October. Vehicles were used to carry party cadres from Baglung, Parbat and Myagdi to participate in a mass assembly that Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal was scheduled to address on 31 October. Likewise, passenger jeep (Lu 1 Ta 2898) was alsotorchedat Amarbhumi VDC of the district the same night.

An unidentified group torched a jeep used by poll UCPN (M) candidate from Nawalparasi-3 and former lawmaker Sita Baudel at Arunkhola in Nawalparasi on 31 October, night. In another incident a petrol bomb throne to the vehicle (Ba5Cha 755) used by NC central vice chairman Ram Chandra Poudel in his election campaign has been damaged while parking at Ramjakot in Tanahun on 30 October, night.

Similarly, an unidentified group vandalized the vehicle used by Kumar Paudel, UCPN-(M) candidate from Morang Constituency-2 on 26 October. Police said the vehicle was parked at a house of a UCPN member.[14] Another vehicle used by Mohan Giri, a UCPN (M) candidate was torched at Bankhet of Kanchanpur on 28 October. Two men on a motorcycle sprinkled petrol and set the vehicle on fire. A vehicle belonging to Birendra Bam, a Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP)-Nepal or RPP (N) candidate was vandalized near the Ghodaghodi Lake in Kailali district on 26 October.

In Dailekh district an unidentified group set off explosives at Khadkawada, Layatibindrasaini, Dwari and Bhawani villages on 25 October. CPN-M activists are suspected to have denoted the improvised explosive devices. The CPN-M district leadership denied involvement in the blasts.[15]

Vandalism: Likewise a vehicle belonging to NC candidate of Dhankuta-2, Anand Santoshi Rai was torched by an unidentified group on 29 October. The vehicle was parked outside Santoshi's house at Dhankuta Municipality-7. More vehicles were set on fire by unidentified people in Baglung district. These included a jeep used by a candidate of CPN-UML in Baglung-1. In another incident, four motorcycles used by the UCPN (M) activists were vandalized in Khunga VDC of Baglung on 28 October.

Issues and challenges

Campaigning peaked this week with candidates trying to build a momentum before Tihar recess sets in. Those boycotting the election also put in all efforts to create fear among both the candidates as well as the voters, wherever they could. After the holidays, a tighter control on security situation is needed when voters begin to pay more attention to the election. The government plans to put special security arrangements to prevent violence with a focus on volatile districts. Between now and election day, major outbreak of violence with wider political resonance should be avoided to keep the voter confidence high otherwise the conditions may worsen and affect the turnout.